Li-f-e is OpenSUSE's Linux for Education product. While this product has been quietly maturing, it has, to some extent fallen off my radar. Particularly with their 9.10 release, Ubuntu and the related educational project Edubuntu has been all the Linux I've needed. Ubuntu is easy, it works well, and it's fast. However, the latest features announced today with this release of OpenSUSE's educational distribution have me downloading as fast as my BitTorrent client will allow.
As described on the OpenSUSE Education site,
openSUSE Education team is proud to present openSUSE-Edu Li-f-e(Linux for Education) based on openSUSE 11.2. We are for the first time using "hybrid" iso image, single iso can be used to create live DVD or USB stick...This release includes carefully selected softwares for students, educators as well as parents. The software selection encompasses everything required to make computers productive for either home or educational use.
A closer look at the included software available on the Live DVD (or bootable USB stick) is quite compelling:
- Full LAMP implementation
- Improved KIWI-LTSP implementation that can work either from the live DVD or be easily installed by non-technical users to get Linux thin clients up and running quickly (or to simply allow full PCs to access a terminal session on a Li-f-e server)
- "Applications include tons of Educational apps, graphics, development(many IDEs, compilers, debuggers etc), office suite, and complete multimedia support"
- Inclusion of the Sugar UI (from OLPC) as one of the desktop boot options
Again, the OpenSUSE team notes,
The aim of this DVD is to provide complete education and development resources for parents, students, teachers as well as IT admins running labs at educational institutes
There are a couple of pieces here that are really exciting. The Sugar UI really does represent a different way of interacting with computers and could be very interesting in the K-5 space. Edubuntu's LTSP implementation is quite user-friendly, but KIWI-LTSP looks like it could be even easier; Li-f-e 11.2 also includes easy testing facilities for the thin clients, as well as built-in user accounts.
Jason Perlow recently reviewed a milestone release of OpenSUSE 11.2 and found it to be snappy and clean. Add a layer of all the software required for most educational institutions and we just might have a new leader in this space. A thorough review will be forthcoming.